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Paid leave facts to jump-start a business story

July 6, 2017

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“Woman and child against a sunset” image via Pexels user Pixabay CC0 License

In the thick of summer, paid time off is a timely topic. In addition to traditional time off for vacations, paid leave for parents after the birth or adoption of a child, part of Trump’s March budget proposal, is another hot subject. Load up on facts and statistics before delving into a story that affects virtually every business, both owners and employees.

Six quick facts about paid leave

As of April, 2015, the United States was the only one among 41 developed countries that does not require paid leave for new parents, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Fourteen and a half weeks is the average maximum amount of maternity leave that U.S. companies offered in 2016 and just over 11 weeks is the average length of paternity leave, reports the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in its National Study of Employers.

Meanwhile, unlimited vacation time has become a trendy topic at some Silicon Valley startups. And yet SHRM reports in its 2016 Employee Benefits reports that only one to two percent of employers in the U.S. offer this benefit. This is despite a potential boost to a company’s bottom line.

Last year, average American vacation day use increased to 16.8 days per worker compared to 16.2 days in 2015, finds a 2017 report from Project: Time Off, a national coalition of organizations in the tourism industry.

Seven U.S. states, 29 cities, two counties and Washington, D.C. have laws that address paid sick leave. New York-based legal organization A Better Balance has a detailed comparison chart of paid sick leave laws.

Just over half (53 percent) of workers report being able to take paid leave for their own illness and even fewer (39 percent) report being able to take paid family leave for the birth of a child, according to a 2014 White House report on the Economics of Paid and Unpaid Leave.

Reporter’s Takeaway

• If your jurisdiction has any paid leave laws on the books, what has been the impact on your community? Is there any local legislation pending and if so, how do business-owners and workers feel about it? How do local business-owners feel about Trump’s proposed paid leave policy? Are there any concerns with proposed or current laws? If so, what are they?

• Are any companies in your local area offering unlimited vacation time? How has it worked for them? Or are they tending to offer summer Fridays or other perks like “social justice” PTO?

• Benefits consulting companies may be able to weigh in on trends in your area. Some may operate locally—for instance, Austin Benefits Group in Texas—or some national consulting companies such as Aon have a practice devoted to human resources expertise, including benefits.


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